Tue, Jul 09, 2013 - Page 18 News List

FIFA: Ghana, Iraq make U-20 semi-finals

CRUNCH TIME:The only African nation to win the event, Ghana are to play France, while Iraq, who put out South Korea on penalties, meet Uruguay in the other semi-final


Valber Huerta of Chile, right, on Sunday vies with Joseph Attamah, center, and Ebenezer Assifuah, left, of Ghana during their quarter-final soccer match at the FIFA U-20 World Cup at the TT Arena stadium in Istanbul, Turkey.

Photo: AFP

Ebenezer Assifuah scored his second goal in the closing minutes of extra time as Ghana beat Chile 4-3 to reach the semi-finals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Sunday.

Assifuah’s header completed Ghana’s comeback after Angelo Henriquez put Chile 3-2 up in the eighth minute of extra time. Seidu Salifu equalized in the 113th minute after being set up by Clifford Aboagye. Both teams were locked at 2-2 in normal time.

“This was really a cliffhanger match,” Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh said. “That is what this tournament is about, to show good football and to entertain people.”

The only African nation to win the event, in 2009, Ghana will next play France while Iraq take on Uruguay in the other semi-final.

Earlier on Sunday, Iraq conceded the lead three times to draw 3-3 with South Korea before winning a penalty shootout.

Tetteh praised his team for coming from behind for a second straight match. In the previous knockout round, Ghana beat Portugal 3-2 with two late goals.

“We didn’t panic, we still played our type of football,” Tetteh said. “I have to give credit to the boys ... this was a complete performance from a determined team.”

Earlier in the tournament, Ghana narrowly escaped elimination after losing group matches against Spain and France before advancing on goal difference following a 4-1 win against the US.

“It’s a wonderful feeling for us to progress to the semi-final,” Tetteh said. “We started from a very low point. The progression of this team is wonderful.”

Ghana took the lead in the 11th minute when Frank Acheampong set up Moses Odjer, who controlled the ball on his chest before hammering it past goalkeeper Dario Melo.

Nicolas Castillo scored his fourth goal of the tournament with a fierce strike to level in the 23rd minute, and Henriquez gave Chile the lead four minutes later with a low shot from just outside the area.

Ghana pressed for an equalizer in the second half and got their reward in the 72nd minute when Ebenezer Assifuah hit the target for his first goal.

Iraq striker Farhan Shakor, who scored twice in normal time, converted the decisive penalty after Lee Chang-geun’s spot kick was saved by goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed.

Iraq beat Paraguay 1-0 through Shakor’s goal in extra time in the previous round. Iraq’s previous best achievement was reaching the quarter-finals in 1989.

After the match ended 2-2, Farhan looked to have sent Iraq through with his goal in the 118th minute, only for substitute Jung Hyun-cheol to equalize for South Korea with the last kick of the match.

Two minutes after coming on, Jung’s 25m strike was deflected by the defense to give Hameed no chance.

South Korea, who missed injured top-scorer Ryu Seung-woo, beat Colombia in a shootout in the previous round. They also defeated Iraq on penalties during the final of this year’s Asian Under-19 Championship.

Playing without suspended key striker Mohanad Abdulraheem, Iraq took the lead in the 21st minute from a penalty by Ali Faez after Kim Hy-un fouled Ali Adnan in the area. Five minutes later, Kwon Chang-hoon headed the ball into the net from a throw-in by South Korea left back Sim Sang-min.

Three minutes before halftime, Shakor made it 2-1 with his first off a rebound after South Korea goalkeeper Lee Chang-geun saved a shot by Ali Qasim. In the 50th minute, South Korea leveled again as loose defending by Iraq allowed Lee Gwang-hun, who replaced Kim Hy-un at halftime, to score a header.

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